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Atheros' Sales Jump (Update)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Atheros (ATHR) said it will escape some of the sting of the economic slowdown in the current quarter, thanks to a slew of new products.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company provided a financial forecast on Monday that, while hardly rosy, was brighter than those made in recent days by other chip firms, sending its stock up nearly 7% to $17.24 in extended trading.

"We, like others in the semiconductor industry, face strong economic headwinds in the coming quarter and are cautious in our outlook," finance chief Jack Lazar said in a post-earnings conference call Monday.

But Lazar added later: "We do have some pretty good things happening here as far as product cycles that we think are pretty independent of the overall economy."

Technically, Atheros' forecasted revenue range of $131.2 million to $138.1 million is below Wall Street expectations of $145 million.

But as has been the case with just about every chip firm reporting earnings in recent weeks, investors appear to assume the average analyst estimates for the fourth quarter are too high, and are more focused on how sharply sales will decline in the next three months.

Atheros said sales will be flat to down 5% sequentially, compared to the double-digit percentage drops predicted by other chipmakers recently including Texas Instruments (TXN) and Intersil (ISIL).

And Atheros said its gross profit margin might even increase sequentially, with the company projecting a range of 49% to 50%, vs. 49.4% in the third quarter.

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